Your benefits, tax and pension after the death of a spouse

Tax and National Insurance

Your income will probably change after the death of your husband, wife or civil partner.

If you get extra money from pensions, annuities, benefits or an inheritance, you may need to pay more tax. You may be on a lower income and need to pay less tax.

Your tax allowances - the income you do not pay tax on - may also change.

Income you must report

Tell HMRC if you get:

  • interest from a bank, building society or a National Savings and Investment product, eg pensioner income, capital bonds
  • income from letting out property
  • income from Purchased Life Annuities
  • Widowed Parent’s Allowance or Bereavement Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • foreign pension payments
  • other income that should have been taxed but has not been

You do not need to tell HMRC about:

  • income your employer pays tax on through PAYE
  • income from a private pension
  • income which does not get taxed, eg from an Individual Savings Account (ISA)
  • any income if you’ll reach State Pension age within 4 months
  • getting Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Bereavement Support Payment

How to tell HMRC

Tell HMRC about a change in your income:

Tax allowances

If you pay Income Tax, you’ll have a Personal Allowance - income you do not pay tax on. Your allowance may change if your income changes.

HMRC will automatically adjust your Personal Allowance when you tell them about your change of income.

Married Couple’s Allowance

If you or your husband, wife or civil partner were born before 6 April 1935, you may have been claiming Married Couple’s Allowance. You’ll still get the allowance for the current tax year (up to 5 April) but HMRC will automatically stop it after that and you’ll get just your Personal Allowance.

Blind Person’s Allowance

If your husband, wife or civil partner was claiming Blind Person’s Allowance, ask HMRC to transfer what’s left of their Blind Person’s Allowance for the current tax year (up to 5 April) to you.

HMRC Blind Person’s Allowance enquiries
Telephone: 0300 200 3301
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Saturday, 8am to 4pm
Find out about call charges

Reduced rate National Insurance

If you’re a widow and you were married before April 1977, you might be paying a reduced rate of National Insurance (sometimes called the ‘small stamp’).

You may be able to keep paying the reduced rate. Contact HMRC to find out what you should do.

  1. Step 1 Register the death

    Ask the GP or hospital doctor for a medical certificate. You'll need this to register the death.

    1. Register the death within 5 days

    Check what to do if:

    To stop or change benefits payments you can tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about the death straight away.

  2. Step 2 Arrange the funeral

    When you register the death you’ll get a 'certificate for a burial' to give to the funeral director, or an application for cremation which you need to complete and give to the crematorium. You must do one of these before the funeral can take place.

    1. Arrange the funeral
    2. Find bereavement services from your local council
    3. Get help paying for a funeral
  3. Step 3 Tell government someone died

    The Tell Us Once service allows you to inform all the relevant government departments when someone dies.

    1. Use the Tell Us Once service to tell government
    2. If Tell Us Once is not available in your area tell government yourself

    You'll also need to tell banks, utility companies and landlords yourself.

  4. Step 4 Check if you can get bereavement benefits

  5. and Deal with your own benefits, pension and taxes

    Your tax, benefit claims and pension might change depending on your relationship with the person who died.

    1. You are currently viewing: Manage your tax, pensions and benefits if your spouse has died
    2. Check how benefits are affected if a child dies
  6. Step 5 Deal with their estate

    You might have to deal with the will, money and property of the person who's died if you're a close friend or relative, or the executor of the will.

    1. Check what to do about wills, probate and inheritance
    2. Update property records